Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Truck Drivin' Man - Part The Second

Grandad tends to talk about his fonder memories from his time during the war. Such as the time he was stationed in Belgium and walked in to a bar to find his brother Sid in there, propping up the bar. Not only that but the two of them were shortly joined but their brother-in-law Arthur. Small world. He also spent some time as a staff driver for the officers and was treated very well - occasionally being the recipient of crates of alcohol which were always gratefully received by all and sundry at the local alcohol-starved bars.

Being a driver is something about him that's a strong memory from when I was a wee lad. Like my grandfather on the other side of the family, Grandad took what work he could to support the family.As he was yet to hit retirement age when I was a nipper, the job that I remember him doing was that of a truck driver. And I mean proper truck driver. Massive, 16-wheeler, articulated type of jobbies.

There was something pleasingly intimidating about the vast lorry he used to drive - it used to make the street look small when he parked it up outside the maisonette he still inhabits. The fact that you had to clamber your way up quite a considerable distance before you even got to the seat was part of that. And then, once you were securely strapped in up there, the fact that you were up so high and able to look down upon all the other traffic (except maybe buses) was both impressive and a little scary all at the same time.

The trailer also held its fascinations as well. Firstly because it was this dark vast space full of crates and boxes and palates of stuff things, and secondly because said stuff and things were usually many, many, many remaindered books. You see, Grandad's job was haul off all these crates of misprinted books to be pulped. Generally, they were only missing the fly pages (those mysteriously blank pages you used to get at the front and back)without which they were technically unable to sell them - the upside of this being that we were never short of a free supply of technically unsellable but actually complete books for our reading delight.

They say that smell is one of the strongest aides to memory and I distinctly remember that lovely, papery, sawdusty smell of many, many new books all boxed up together. I was always an avid reader but this definitely helped to cement the appeal of books in my formative mind.

Other than helping to further my love of books, I'd have to say that Grandad was part of shaping my humour too (along with Ma and Pa, naturally). He loved nothing better than to sit and watch Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes cartoons with us (and he is still amused by them, even in his 80s). Also, his fondness for old black and white comedy - Laurel & Hardy, Harold Lloyd, the Marx Brothers - has definitely filtered down to me; I still enjoy all of those to this day as does he. I guess I'm as much the product of my grandparents as I am my parents and not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to say that.


Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Oh, the aroma of a new book.

So good!


That Baldy Fella said...

Everyone loves a booky niff...